Album | Ben Ottewell – Rattlebag


It seems a long time now since the first encounter with Mr Ottewell. Back in the late 90’s Gomez came from nowhere with two great early albums before never quite hitting those early heights again, though they continue as a band, just distracted by solo careers and with much less frequent group releases. So, here is one of Gomez’s lead songwriter’s second solo albums, and it isn’t long before you are fully aware that this man can still pen and carry a highly loveable tune.

Ottewell’s husky voice hasn’t really changed that much since his early days in which it seemed an unusual sound for a man in his early twenties. Whisky and cigarettes (as it was once thought must surely fuel his fire) seem to have been in short supply in his neck of the woods and it’s not bad thing, as his warm vocals consume the songs and take them in some rather delightful directions. In fact, the album is immediately and endlessly lovable. It’s an honest and heartfelt set of songs, with a mild exploration of sound (perhaps not enough for fans of early Gomez work) and enough good song writing to coat the whole collection with an understated majesty, a magnificence.

The end of ‘Stone’ has such a good vibe you feel it’s been cut short when it ends, it’s one of those endings that could be dragged out for ages and wouldn’t seem boring. The album is a case of nothing new but everything strikes a cord, it all feels effortless and has a rather beautiful shade to it. Almost everything here hits its mark, rather than trying things and failing.

The final thought that occurs from this experience is that Mr Ottewell doesn’t actually need to return to his day job, as he can more than cope on his own. Perhaps that decision rests at his door, and the band and his solo work reveal the two sides and the varying emotional and musical adventures that he likes to document. It probably isn’t a choice he needs to make, and therefore the two sides can coexist and comfort fans of both sides for years to come, but it’s just possible that therein lies the problem, it’s almost all too comfortable. If he only had one side, the band or the solo career, he might have to be braver and protect the basket with all the eggs inside. It’s a career worth keeping an eye on, as he certainly doesn’t diminish with age. A worthwhile time spent with a man who at the very minimum has something fine to offer anyone who likes a well penned pop/folk song.